What is shrove Tuesday?
Shrove Tuesday is a day of feasting. It marks the conclusion of the Epiphany Season. On this day, the Church feasts before she enters into a more solemn and penitential season called Lent, which is referred to as a Season of Confession.
Shrove Tuesday is celebrated with a pancake dinner, which is accompanied by eggs and syrup (bacon can be added–and it should!).
This day allows the Church to celebrate once again the abundance of the Gospel in our lives and the world. The glory of the Epiphany season is that Jesus has given us life and life more abundantly (Jn.10:10).
Following the rich feasting tradition of our Hebrew forefathers, the English-speaking Church has broadly practiced Shrove Tuesday for over 800 years.
What’s the Importance of this day?
Individuals or churches are not bound by such traditions since it is not an explicit imperative in the Bible. However, if churches do practice this, it is vital for members to join in this festive occasion. It gives the Church another healthy excuse to fellowship and form greater bonds through a delightful and bountiful meal.
On the day before we enter into the Lenten story, Christians prepare rightly by celebrating God’s gifts to us so that we can rightly meditate, fast, pray, confess, and repent by remembering the sufferings of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
What if my Church does not do Shrove Tuesday?
Assuming the congregation is silent on the issue and has not taken any strong constitutional or theological position on the matter, then as a family, you are also free to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. You may also want to invite friends over to enjoy a pancake dinner and sing hymns of praise.
Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday is the day before the first day of Lent. Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent (Sundays are excluded from this number). Shrove Tuesday celebrates the Christ who has given us all things, including His own body for our sakes (I Pet. 2:24).
Shrove comes from the word "shrive" meaning "to confess." As we celebrate, let us not forget that the Christian life is, as Luther stated, a “life of daily repentance.” Confession is not just reserved for Lent, but it is for all seasons. But as we approach the Lenten Season, we receive a particular reminder (through our liturgical readings and singing) that a repentant heart is a clean heart before God (Ps. 51:2).